Blood lipid studies are reported in 25 adults and 2 adolescents with PKU who had been on phenylalanine-restricted diets for a mean period of 22.6 years (range 7-39 years). Measurements included plasma concentrations of phenylalanine, cholesterol, lipoproteins, triglycerides and fatty acid profiles, including the analysis of seven fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells. Lipid screening identified 7 subjects with significantly elevated cholesterol/HDL ratios ranging from 5.6 to 10.3. Triglyceridaemia was documented in 5 of these 7, with concentrations ranging between 0.24 and 4.5 mmol/L (219-402 mg/dl) with a mean of 3.5 mmol/L (310 mg/dl). The fatty acid analyses demonstrated slight but statistically significant reductions in the concentrations of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), including plasma docosahexaenoic (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA), and red blood cell DHA concentrations. The pattern resembles that reported previously in children, but alterations in the mean levels are less severe. In six of the adult patients plasma DHA or AA concentrations were less than 50% of controls. Since DHA and AA have important physiological roles, including brain and retinal function, it is recommended that blood lipid concentrations be monitored in all patients with PKU, including adults, and that DHA and AA supplementation be provided, particularly in those patients in whom the blood concentrations of these substances are reduced significantly.
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